It’s tough when it’s time to move your little one from crib to toddler bed. But, we’ve developed some tips to hopefully ease that transition.
INVOLVE THEM IN THE TRANSITION
Lead up to the transition for a few days, explain to your little one that they will sleep in a big kid bed, not a crib. Take them to Wal-Mart to choose their own sheets. They’ll love it and feel a sense of ownership with their new bed. Have your little one “help” set up the bed. We actually only took half a step to a toddler bed. I strongly suggest that if your crib can transition to a toddler bed, you do that first rather than giving them a whole new bed. This way, there is still some continuity and familiarity with their sleeping space.
HAVE A STEADFAST BEDTIME ROUTINE
Continue the same bedtime routine you had when they were in a crib. This sense of continuity and familiarity will help the transition. We tuck our kids in with one doll and sing them a few songs and say prayers with them. We praise them for the things they did well that day and let them know what we will be doing the next day. We kiss and say Good night.
MAKE IT AS FRIENDLY AS POSSIBLE
Let them have stuffies, dolls, or comfort blankets, preferably the same ones they had in their crib. When we transitioned our son, he began to be scared of the dark. So, we made sure that his music machine, which projected stars on the ceiling, always had battery power. We also bought some nightlights–one for his room, and one for our living area to guide him to our room just in case he got out of bed in the middle of the night. For the first week, we also kept the door open as he fell asleep so he could see us on the couch, and we could make sure he stayed in his bed (which he did). After he got used to falling asleep in his toddler bed, we began to close the door as normal. In the morning, we always praised him for doing a good job sleeping in his big boy bed. Sometimes, even a compromise is required. To remove the temptation of getting out of bed and playing with toys, we allow our kids to take one doll or toy and one book into bed.
ANSWER CRIES QUICKLY
Toddler beds are new and different than cribs. Both our kids loved cuddling right up to the front corner of the crib–right up against the front bars. The first few nights, both our kids fell out a few times. When they did fall out, we quickly came in the room, gave them a hug and a kiss, put them back in bed, and sang them one more song before leaving.
SIMULTANEOUSLY TRAIN FOR WHEN TO WAKE UP
When we transitioned our kids, they both began waking up earlier than normal and getting out of bed. So, we trained them for the time they were allowed to come out. We used specific sleep training clocks that light up when it is ok to get out of bed. When they started to recognize numbers, we’d teach them the time they were allowed to get out.
SOMETIMES, ALL YOU NEED IS LUCK
We were lucky to have our song completely used to sleeping in a toddler bed within a week and now at age six, he’s never really had trouble with bed time. However, our daughter was a different story. At four years old, she still struggles with bed–she sneaks out often, wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into our room, and loves to get up before the crack of dawn. Sometimes, even after years of the same routine, all you really need is luck!